Can I get a support modification if I can’t prove her income?

Divorce Attorney Angela FoyQuestion:

When my ex wife and I divorced, I was ordered to pay 5% of my gross income as child support. My ex now makes substantially more money than me and I would like to either get my child support obligation terminated or reduced.

She says that the support order will not be modified because her government job doesn’t require her to pay taxes, so I can’t prove her income. Can I get a child support modification?


In Wisconsin, child support is always modifiable. The party requesting a modification must file a motion unless the other party is in agreement with the change. The motion must allege facts for the court to find that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the last order was issued. In Wisconsin, the court presumes that circumstances have changed after 33 months.

Child support is typically set using the percentage standards promulgated by the Department of Children and Families. Courts can deviate from the percentage standard calculations, but if they do, must cite the reason for the deviation.

If the parents have a shared placement schedule, the court utilizes a shared placement formula, which follows.  DCF § 150.04 (2).  The shared-placement formula assumes that both parents assume the child’s basic support costs in proportion to the time that the parent has placement of the child.

  1. Each parent’s gross monthly income is multiplied by the appropriate percentage standard, 17% for one child.
  2. Each amount is then multiplied by 150% to account for household maintenance expenditures duplicated by both parents such as a bedroom, clothes, and personal items.
  3. Then each amount is multiplied by the proportion of the time that the child spends with the other parent to determine each parent’s child support obligation (If placement is equal, each side is multiplied by 50%.  If placement is 60% with mother and 40% with father, then multiply father’s amount by 60% and mother’s by 40%).
  4. Offset the resulting amounts against each other.  The parent with a greater child support obligation is the payer.

It seems like the difficult part for you will be proving that she has the increased income. Child support is calculated using the parties’ gross income, and that is supposed to be income derived from any source and realized in any form.

The Wisconsin Statutes also requires the court to consider the parties’ total economic circumstances when determining an obligated party’s ability to pay. However, it still can be difficult, and expensive to prove what she is making if she if she is not forthcoming.

You should contact a domestic litigation attorney to discuss your situation and possible exposure to increased support.  Cordell & Cordell has attorneys that are licensed and located in Wisconsin, and we would be happy to discuss your case with you.


Angela Foy is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisc., office of Cordell & Cordell where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Foy is licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, the U.S. District Court, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. 

 Ms. Foy received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She then continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Marquette University.

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